Miers? Rove? Libby? Bill Bennett Reacts

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Oct. 27, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The other story that shook our nation's capital today was the withdrawal of the Harriet Miers nomination for the Supreme Court. After taking a beating at the hands of conservatives for weeks and getting a tepid reception on Capitol Hill by senators from both parties, she hung it up this morning.

The White House said the president reluctantly accepted no time table has been set for announcing a new nominee, although may people are speculating tonight that it could come sooner rather than later.

Joining us now with reaction is the host of "Morning in America," FOX News contributor Bill Bennett.

Dr. Bennett, welcome back.


COLMES: This idea that was all because of the fear of having get documents from the White House, even that Charles Krauthammer this is spin, it's more to the story than that, would you agree?

BENNETT: Yes. No, that wasn't the reason. That was the putative reason. That was the reason that was put out.

The reason was a good argument was made against her, a reasonable argument, a civilized argument. It's just the way we like to do it. And it was based on her competence, her experience, and some questions about her ideology.

She wasn't trashed. She wasn't smeared. People didn't go through her garbage cans or check her video rental records. This was a discussion of what she knew, what her perspective was, what her experience was on constitutional law.

And then I think the real clincher, Alan, were the speeches that were revealed, the 1993 speeches in which she maintained sentiments throughout those speeches that made it clear that she was not the kind of conservative that many hoped...


COLMES: Well, that's what's troubling. For one thing, why wouldn't the White House give us the true story? We know it's not just about documents. As a matter of fact, senior lawmakers, according to the Associated Press, on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they made no such request for any of these documents as of yet. So they've put out a story that blatantly can be proved to be untrue.

BENNETT: It wasn't about the documents. There have been some requests for some documents, as you know. But this wasn't the reason.

And they can do that to save her face and her reputation. And that's perfectly fine. But the reasons were that she did not measure up.

And I think this was a model — frankly, I have to tell you, it was a model. She wasn't beaten up on by a lot of conservatives, and a lot of writers and thinkers. She was evaluated and she was criticized. I don't think you can really find one inappropriate thing said. This is the way a civilized party conducts its business, especially when there's a disagreement. And the Democrats could learn from it.

COLMES: You say it's — wait a second, now, Dr. Bennett. First of all — the civilized part — the White House put out something they knew to be false about it being about documents. Secondly, when it's a liberal nominee that's up, I hear conservatives say, "Why can't that person at least have a straight up-and-down vote?" Why not that argument here, give her a straight up-and-down vote, let people who represent us decide?

BENNETT: Well, it could have gone to a straight up-and-down vote had it been meritorious. But it wasn't meritorious. She was not impressing people on the Hill.

And when you looked at her record, the record was thin. Ironically, Alan, the only constitutional experience this woman had, the only experience with constitutional law, she had in the White House as an adviser to the president and that did create some problems, in terms of those documents.

But I have to tell you, I think this was a very good moment, a good occasion. It showed that people can raise these kinds of objections to their president. The president finally took them seriously, or Ms. Miers took them seriously. They both did, and made the right decision.

COLMES: But she was denied due process by her own party, no up-and- down vote, the very thing conservatives said they want?

BENNETT: It's not — now you need some tutoring in constitutional law. There's no due process requirement for a nominee to the Supreme Court. She wasn't on trial.

The question is, was her merits and her record, did it justified her being on the court? And I think it's clear that she's a competent, able, very decent, very loyal woman. She's not Supreme Court material.

COLMES: Due process is what conservatives always talk about when there's a liberal nominee. But I want to ask you — the speech that was talking about...

BENNETT: I hadn't heard it before.

COLMES: ... in the Washington Post, the one that she gave in 1993, when she talks about self-determination on issues like abortion and gay rights. And that's a problem, people should not have self-determination?

BENNETT: That's a problem. What she was doing was echoing the language from the Casey decision and, of course, echoing Roe v. Wade. That wasn't the only comment.

She also said, "We've gone way beyond legislating morality." I don't know what we're legislating if we're not legislating morality, when we say that, "Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill." We say that in the law, as well as the Commandments.

And she also, you know, held up a number of figures whom she said she admired, which was troublesome. You know, she talked about Barbra Streisand. She talked about Ann Richards. If you had Ruth Bader Ginsburg singing the praises of Laura Ingraham and Phyllis Schlafly, you guys would have had a problem.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Bill, welcome back to the program. Good to see you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

HANNITY: You know, but the problem is conservatives couldn't get glean her true judicial philosophy and get behind this nominee.

BENNETT: That's right.

HANNITY: That was one of the biggest parts of the problem there.

I want to ask you this, because you're on the radio now every morning. Are you getting what I'm getting and what I'm actually feeling, a growing resentment, a little anger, disappointment, the Republicans have been weak on some issues like immigration, they have given in on pork-barrel projects and the expansion of government, and too much spending, and there may be some ways they lost their way?

BENNETT: Well, yes, I am getting that. I hear about immigration. Every time we open up the phone lines to any topic, Sean, we hear immigration is first, also this stuff on the budget. Budget busting after Katrina is a big concern of people. And yes, there is that question.

I think the president has found his way, found his way back. You know Bennett's axiom. There's only one thing I know for sure about Washington, Sean, and it's a football analogy. You're on offense or you're on defense.


BENNETT: And the past couple weeks, and maybe for another couple of days, they'll be defense. But the president is now in a position, or soon will be in a position, to go back on offense.

That speech the other day to the Armed Forces' wives was very strong about Iraq and the war in Iraq. And his remarks at the Economic Club yesterday were very strong about the economy.

You know, he has to come back and come back strong. But you're right, there is this worry. And, again, I think this is impressive. It's a big party. People are concerned about it. They express their concerns about it. We don't savage each other.

HANNITY: You see, I agree with you. I actually think this is all a sign of strength.

What you see an intellectual honesty and integrity...

BENNETT: Yes, I think so.

HANNITY: ... within the conservative movement and that is a willingness that, if they see people veering off-course from some of the promises they made on immigration, growth of government, on spending, maybe appointing people with an identifiable judicial philosophy, that's a sign of strength in holding their politicians and their party accountable here.

What I see, though, is I almost sense that this is — we're going to look back at this as a shift, a change, that this is an opportunity for the president to reinvigorate the base and get support behind him when he appoints either a Janice Rogers Brown, an Edith Jones, aMichael Luttig.

I think it's going to be some real support within his base about that type of selection.

BENNETT: Well, they so much want to do it, don't they, Sean?

HANNITY: They really do.

BENNETT: They really want to come back. I don't know about your listeners. My listeners just felt bad about not being at one with the president about this, because they have visceral loyalty to George Bush, which is a good thing.

HANNITY: Good point.

BENNETT: But they felt intellectually some distance from him as they looked at the evidence in this case. But now that this is resolved, I think you're going to see people get so strongly behind George Bush, particularly when he names someone that's going to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

HANNITY: Do you think, and are your certain — I mean, we also had some problems with the attorney general, Gonzales, and his nomination...


BENNETT: You're going to say, "Don't do it again," right?

HANNITY: Do you think he will go with a known originalist here?

BENNETT: Anyone named Mike or Edith. How's that for a start, you know?

HANNITY: That's a pretty good, McConnell and Luttig and Jones.

BENNETT: Two Mikes, two Ediths, yes, or Priscilla or Janice. We got a very strong bench here. You got admit it. We've got a very strong bench. And these are people George Bush has nominated before.

The biggest problem may be giving spine and backbone to some of those middle of the road Republicans, because we may go all the way back to what we were talking about months ago, you know, the trigger and so on, and ending a filibuster. It may be that kind of nominee.

COLMES: We're going to continue after this break with Dr. Bennett.



HANNITY: As we continue on "Hannity & Colmes," I'm Sean Hannity.

Still to come tonight, will the president's next pick be someone like John Roberts or maybe somebody more conservative, in the vein of a Thomas or Scalia? We're going to ask senators from both sides of the aisle what they want from the next nominee.

First, we continue with the host of "Morning in America," FOX News contributor Bill Bennett is with us.

Bill, we have this investigation — and I know liberals have been disappointed every single day this week, that they thought they'd wake up and the news of the day would be thatKarl Rove, and Scooter Libby, and others might have been indicted.

It could happen tomorrow. If I had to guess, I think there are indictments coming down, as my read on it, based on the selective leaks that are all over the media.

But what's somewhat troubling is I read these reports, or what's most troubling to me, is we've gotten away from this idea of whether or not it was about, you know, the revealing of a covert operative's name and it's now about, well, somebody may have forgotten a conversation with a reporter two years ago.


HANNITY: And it seems, if those reports are right, what does that mean to Bill Bennett?

BENNETT: Yes, I heard your conversation with the former attorney general Ed Meese the other day on the radio. I listen to the radio and always learn something. And it is interesting.

It's possible, I think, as you put it, that no crime may have been committed until the special counsel was appointed. And then, when the investigation was launched, someone might have told an untruth, knowingly, unknowingly, wittingly, unwittingly, to the special counsel.

That's what you're talking about, right?

HANNITY: Yes, sir.

BENNETT: It's not like the situation with Clinton where you had these underlying problems which were then lied about. So it's conceivable. We just don't know. I mean, it's a black box, still.

There's speculation all over the place. My guess is you're right, that we'll see something tomorrow. I hear very good things about this special counsel. My friend, Andy McCarthy, who I think is unimpeachable, thinks the world of this guy. And I do think you will see this White House, if indictments do come down, handle this situation very different than what the way you saw the Clinton White House handle...


COLMES: Dr. Bennett, what underlying problems are you talking about with Bill Clinton that — you know, he lied about sex. That's what they got him on. They couldn't get him on Whitewater, which was what the original investigation was about. And they expanded it into his sex life.

BENNETT: Well, the original thing, of course, was a violation of civil rights. You remember that was the allegation by Ms. Jones.

COLMES: That's an allegation.

BENNETT: It was an allegation, but that was the offense. That was the offense...

COLMES: So they couldn't prove that, so they got him on something else.

BENNETT: You remember Bill Clinton paid a fine? You do remember that?

COLMES: Yes, I understand that.

BENNETT: A huge amount of money.

COLMES: But he was impeached, but not convicted, in the Republican Senate.

BENNETT: Wait a minute. Now, let's run through — you really want to go through this? The second one then, then he was lying, he was lying to - - he lied under oath in the deposition about Paula Jones. And then he was encouraging other people to lie, such as Monica Lewinsky, and then he lied to the grand jury.

COLMES: It was not proven that — first of all, I can't believe that you want to compare this to Bill Clinton. If, indeed, there was a lie that took place...

BENNETT: Well, you asked it.

COLMES: ... to a prosecutor here in the investigation of the possible outing of a CIA agent. And you're comparing that to getting Bill Clinton not on the land deal of the original investigation but about something to do with his sex life. It's outrageous that you're making that comparison.

BENNETT: What I was — well, it's not outrageous. Oh, you asked me what the offenses were, so I told you. But let me say again, if people are indicted in this case, Alan, I believe you will see this White House not trash the prosecutor.

I don't think they will trash the special counsel. I don't think they will call him a creep, and a weirdo, and all these things that were said about Ken Starr.

COLMES: They already said it about this guy.

BENNETT: They will treat it respectfully. No, they haven't. The White House has, I think, been very good on this, because I think this White House believes in the rule of law.

HANNITY: All right, Bill. Good to see you. Appreciate your time tonight...

BENNETT: Thanks, guys.

HANNITY: ... and thanks for being with us.

BENNETT: You bet.

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